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Organically Grown
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
FEATURED HOME OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2010
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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A Frank Lloyd Wright-style home in Urbandale is full of clean lines and natural materials. Plus it’s totally a family affair.

“Anytime you make a major investment, such as building a house, trust is important. So, hey, if you can have your brother as the builder, go for it,” says Bret Bussanmas of Urbandale. He should know. Bret and his wife, Becky, have had Bret’s brother, Jerry of Jerry Bussanmas Homebuilders, create two homes for their family. And they couldn’t be happier.

The newest one, a Frank Lloyd Wright-style walkout ranch backing up to a lovely wooded area, is a design that Jerry calls “organic modern.” “This style really fits in to the Iowa landscape. It is low to the ground and is simple and elegant.”

While the exterior shows the Wright touch, the interior takes a more modern, open stance. “We wanted an open look, where one room flows easily to the next, with a slight industrial feel,” Bret explains. “Jerry has great vision, and he has made this home very personal for us.”

Bret, Becky, and their two daughters formerly lived in a transitional-style home that was a story and a half. As Bret explains, “This time we wanted a crisp, clean look with a Frank Lloyd Wright influence with a low-pitched roof and an exaggerated overhang, and we wanted it filled with natural materials.”

Becky agrees. “Jerry worked out every detail with us and for us. We have lived in several homes, but this one really works beautifully for us. It is cozy enough for our family, but big enough for us to entertain guests, from business contacts to swim team groups.”

Outside, the horizontal Wright look comes to life in stacked stone and stucco. The home is layered into the topography of the land, Jerry says. Landscape plantings emphasize thehorizontal look, and tall pottery urns draw attention to the front entry.

Inside, the main level includes the living room, kitchen with open family and dining area, office, and the master bedroom suite. “Every detail is well thought out,” Jerry says. “It all works beautifully for entertaining, which Bret and Becky enjoy doing a lot. While the living room is separate, it still feels open because all that separates it from the kitchen/family area is atwo-sided fireplace. It separates it, but in a subtle way.”

An autumn slate floor gives a natural underlayment; area rugs define the living room and the hearth room seating area. The well-conceived open kitchen plan features two colors of natural concrete counters—a different one for the island—and cabinetry is a rich-toned custom cherry with espresso stain. The walk-in pantry has reeded glass doors, which allow light in but are opaque enough to hide the pantry. “That way, small appliances can be plugged in within the pantry and don’t have to be out on the kitchen counters,” Jerry says.

For a personal touch, a big-screen TV is set to play musical favorites while rotating family photos show on the screen when the TV is not on. Comfy leather chairs on the kitchen side of the double fireplace give Mom and Dad a spot for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Counter-height chairs are just right for casual seating at the two-level counter.

Full-length windows in the kitchen dining area soak in the south sun, but there are simple dark shades to lessen the intensity.

Perfect placement
One end of the kitchen is called Bret’s “man bar.” It features a wine-chiller refrigerator and a commercial espresso machine. “You know, we could have placed the bar area downstairs, but right here in the kitchen makes so much more sense. If we are hosting a brunch, for example, it is so nice to be able to offer various coffees and beverages right near the food. It works out really well,” he says. To extend the entertaining area, there’s a covered deck area outside on this level, with table space and ample seating. Stairs lead to the lower patio.

Near the home’s front entry is the office, and, like other spots in the home, it is full of built-in furniture pieces that help the spot run efficiently and without clutter.   

Jerry worked with Bob Cooper Woodworking to create interesting and functional furniture pieces for Bret and Becky’s home, including a dining table with bench seating and a coffee table made of beams for the living room. The living room gets some prominence with a 14-foot ceiling; ceilings in the rest of the living area are 10 feet. A massive beam emphasizes the industrial look.

Also, as a focal point in the living room, Bret and Becky commissioned Jenni Gavin, their friend and local artist, to create a contemporary acrylic/mixed-media piece. It features three panels that together form a stylized representation of the couple and their two daughters, Tori, 14, and Zoe, 11. She did another whimsical piece, “Life’s a Bowl of Cherries,” for the main entry. It’s a colorful piece featuring some of the family’s favorite sayings.

Spa-like suite
The spa-like master suite with classic pocket doors with opaque glass inserts has a contemporary feel. The bathroom has a deep soaking tub with a concrete surround and a walk-in glass and tile shower. The slate on the floor goes up the walls for texture, and the two vanity areas feature white vessel sinks above cherry cabinetry.

The closet and dressing area includes built-in dressers, eliminating the need for extra furniture pieces.

“We wanted the bedrooms to be just for sleeping,” Bret says, “so we didn’t want lots of extraneous pieces to clutter the look.” In the master, Bob Cooper also built a large walnut platform bed with nightstands built into the headboard. There’s a white concrete fireplace with big-screen TV above it. The result is a pleasing spare and sparse look with a gray and white color scheme and dark teak hardwood flooring.

Downstairs the girls’ bedrooms—one in bright pink and the other in bright teal—repeat the efficient look with built-ins to hold all the “stuff” important to them. They share a bathroom with heated slate flooring and an open desk/study area with built-in desks. For more efficiency, there’s a laundry spot on that level.
Each girl has a chalkboard wall for notes and sayings. How about this fun one: “When your house is on fire, a good friend brings water and tries to douse the flames. A best friend roasts marshmallows and flirts with the HOT firemen.”

There’s “fun” space on the lower level, along with an open theater room area.

 “We didn’t want a dedicated theater room,” Bret says. “This is much more versatile for playing Wii games when there are other people here.” Nearby is a cabana room and shower area so that family and guests can come in after using the pool outside. Other features are a hot tub with a concrete “boulder-looking” surround by the Finished Edge, a fire pit area, and spots for outdoor dining and seating.

Jerry, a builder for about 10 years, formerly was a realtor with Iowa Realty. “What that experience showed me was what features are important to people. I really learned a lot, and I bring those features to the homes I build.” He builds eight to 10 custom homes each year. This year, for the first time, he had a home in HomeShowExpo. He was pleased that it sold the second day of the show.

 

Resources

BUILDER Jerry Bussanmas, Jerry Bussanmas Homes

 

 

 

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